Bookclub Highlights: Life After by Katie Ganshert

My Dearest Readers,

My bookclub friend and I have been on a morbid streak this year. Remember how last year all we read were books on WWII? Our reading choices for 2017 have largely dealt with the topic of tragedy. This greatly disturbed me. Why has it so enamored us? Yet, as I contemplated, what can be a better topic for living in this world today? As we turn on our tvs and turn to the news, we are bombarded with stories of pain, hate, riots, killings, the list could go on. Today, we need all the encouragement and healing we can get. Katie Ganshert’s  Life After delivers just that.
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2016 Favorites (Part One)

As weird as it may sound, when I look back at all the books I consider my favorites from last year, I’m reminded of God’s love for me. Most of these books carried an encouraging message I needed to hear at the time. Others, the story was purely an adventure! Either way, I have to look up and say, “Thank you, God because I know that was You.”

If I could give one novel to every person on earth it would be Penelope J. Stokes’The Wishing Jar.  Everyone has gone through their share of struggles; everyone has gone through their share of life. We all experience the same tippy top highs and the darkest of pits. We rejoice in these highs, but what hope is offered during the lows? If each person has gone through them, why can’t we find anything better to say than”Everything’s okay,” or “These trials will help you grow stronger.”  We are not “okay” during a trial neither do we feel strong. The author…she gets it. She’s not a Job’s friend if you know what I mean. Instead, she takes a drastically different approach in admitting that there is no good answer why we go through what we do. Despite this sobering truth, she still offers a generous dose of hope. And the hope she offers is summed up by this one simple quote:

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Secondly, she teaches you how to be a strong woman. And I don’t mean the emotionally immune, has strong muscles sort of strong. (that’s called being a robot) Instead, she demonstrates how to harness God’s strength.

We can’t do life on our own. We quickly succumb to the gales and are blown over. But with God, He is the steady arm that keeps us standing. We maybe bowed over and our petals wilted but we are not dead. With His gentle breath, we will rise to see another dawning. (Psalm 30:5)

 

The Arts of Ancient China

According to Sun-Tzu, war must have been one of them! Can’t find that in any Arts and Crafts Show!

Art of War by Sun Tzu:

Rated A

 Anyone can gain help using this book.

 

Whether fighting an army of barbarians or fighting through an average day, Art of War not only gives many helpful hints for military strategy, but they can also be taken for use in everyday life. For example, Sun-Tzu states that if an army is treated like a child in need of constant care , the army will in return, honor you with respect and obedience. How true is this with any group of people? Whether it be a business you own or any person you work with, if they are treated in a respectable manner, they will in return work better with you.

One point he made was quite interesting to me. Those who fight with the most courage are those who believe there is no hope. If an army believes they are going to win, they may not fight with as much vigor. Why would they need to? They’re going to win anyway. But to those who think they’re losing, they will give the battle all they have.

The adage “sometimes the best offense is a good defense” was something Sun-Tzu highly believed in. (Not to mention General Patton…little FYI there)  His whole theory consisted of waging war without really having to fight. Preservation was key. He thought that wasting lives on long, drawn out attacks was useless not only for the army but also to the state. ($$$) Let the enemy weary themselves out with constant attacks instead.

I highly recommend the one translated by Ralph D. Sawyer. He’s added a great introduction and historical background to this work. He gives examples of how the ancient Chinese put into practice Sun-Tzu’s principles, and even gives a run down of who Sun-Tzu was. Did he even exist? So check this version out here.

Hopefully this will wet your appetite for more advice from the Chinese military genius. Of course you’re probably not in need of strategic advice in order to wage war with the invading Chu. But you might be surprised how much you may still be able to apply the concepts. Every once in a while, it will give you that AHAH moment when you discover something about your own tendencies or the tendencies of others. What’s also awesome is after reading, you will spot errors from other strategists and figure out why they failed! Who doesn’t want that!?

Last 2015 Favorite

I’ve been recently sharing my favorite books from the past year. Sadly, we come to the last one. For those who have missed my other posts on 2015 books, check them all out at the links below.

You Could Say I’m a Fan

A Good Book Always Contains A Dragon

New Beginnings and a New Book

Tea With A British Grandmother

2015 Favorites

This next book is highly important to me for the message it gives. It is..

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Rated A –

I believe each individual should have this on their shelf.

I think everyone is relatively familiar with this work, but how many have actually read it? How many have actually grasped the message? To one, it may just be a nice, entertaining, historical fiction novel, but to me, it was a wake-up call for America and her church. Whether it was read during the times of the Civil War or read even today, the message of this book still holds true. People cannot see people as people, and here the church sits idly by doing nothing.

Not only is this story convicting, Read more

You Could Say I’m a Fan

My amazing bookclub friend, whom I lovingly nicknamed Olive Oil, chose this for our January reading. I have to say, I don’t know where I was before this amazing novelette! How could I have lived without it? Thank you Ms. Olive for introducing this to me!

Tilly by Frank Peretti

Rated A –

This was a good, clean, (deeply emotional) story.

If you didn’t notice, my previous post was also on a Peretti. So, it might be evident that I’m a fan of his works. Each novel is so unique in plot and rich in moral! Stating this, Tilly is no exception. It starts off with a simple tombstone. Almost no details are written about this person who lies underneath. It’s not shown until a little later in the story why this grave affects the characters so deeply. There is such a deeper back story than what meets the eye! And the farther you reach into the book, the more tender it becomes. I mean, get out the tissues! Don’t mistake this book as sad (though in a way I guess it is), but instead, it’s incredibly sweet. My heart seemed as if it was going to burst with love and…feels. Lots of them!

This novelette is extremely short (only 126 pages). Thanks to its equally short chapters, one could finish the book in an hour and a half. After finishing, if you need someone to talk to after this emotionally damaging work, I will try to help. I am acquainted with the pain all too well.

As with Dickens’ work, Little Dorrit, Peretti’s Tilly isn’t as popular as his other books. I’m constantly asking myself why neither of them have a fandom. Please join me with Tilly, so we can make that dream a reality! What are some of your favorite but not too popular books, and why do you think they deserve a chance at fandomhood?

Find your copy here.

2015 Favorites

I really wanted to look back through the past year and share my enthusiasm for my new found favorites. Oh where to even begin!! If you need guidance to clarify the rating symbols, check out my post A World Without a Book Rating.

 

End of the Spear by Steve Saint:

Rating: S

I didn’t actually have a letter to add beside this. In my opinion, there was no need to add an sx symbol, but there was some nudity. It wasn’t detailed in any way though. It was just talking of how the Waodani tribe lived, so I’d still highly recommend it.

This is an incredible autobiography written by the son of the martyred missionary Nate Saint. We’ve all probably heard of the inspiring tale of Jim Elliot and his friends who had the burden to reach the Auca tribe in Ecuador. Simply told, the tribe killed them, but the rest of the family was able to reach these secluded people ending in the tribe’s conversion. Happy ending! But to me, the story was just beginning! How dare everyone leave off at the very best part! This secluded tribe, now known as the Waodani, turned to Christ and became completely different in attitude, but we get no details! How did God work in their hearts to turn them into a loving and caring people? I want to hear testimonies! I want to know what happened! How did the Waodani react to the rest of the family now living within their tribe? I want to know how everyone became reconciled and forgave each other through Christ and the work that went on! What’s going on now? This book speaks about it all! Saint gives a narration from the time when he was a boy all the way to the present day. This story serves as a living testimony of love and forgiveness through Christ Jesus.

Buy at Amazon US

From Dust And Ashes by Tricia Goyer

Rating: A

Personally, I didn’t find anything bad in it. But, it did have a lot of raw emotion and the account of the camps might disturb some people. Nothing gory, so my rating is still an A, but others may still need to use caution.

Goyer’s fictional work on the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen is an absolute masterpiece! What first caught my attention was from whose point of view a third of the story turned around. I have never seen anyone experiment with the view of a former Nazi guard’s wife. She is hurting from her past and wishes to make it right. During her journey to recovery, two equally hurting people cross her path. One is an American soldier who was part of the liberation and another a survivor. Together, they learn healing and forgiveness.

Let me tell you one thing, I am a HUGE sucker for books about restoration, healing, and Christ’s forgiveness. My heart just melts within me! So when I saw it, my first reaction was, “MUST. HAVE. NOW!!!” I’m so glad this beautiful and loving story came across my path. Now, I’m able to share it with friends whose copies are as heavily underlined as my own. (I forgot to mention this book has so many great quotes!)

Buy at Amazon US

Stay tuned for more!